PRN reform would have prevented plastics recycling crisis says British Plastics Federation


The Recycling Group in the British Plastics Federation (BPF) has said that the PRN system needs to be reformed to prevent market failure for the plastics recycling industry.

Recently, Closed Loop Recycling warned it was on the brink of going into administration, but hope remains that the business will be saved following discussions involving the company, WRAP and the dairy businesses (see story here).


But the BPF Recycling Group has warned that with reductions in oil and commodity polymer prices and strong demand for waste plastics from low cost economies, then the Government should have taken decisive action to reform the PRN system.

In its manifesto last year, the Recycling Group said that there should have been a split on plastics recycling targets to distinguish between UK and EU recycling from that which is exported outside of Europe.

This would be achieved through the existing PRN/PERN mechanism leading to a progressive weighting towards increased local recycling year-on-year.

It also proposed an offset mechanism, which calls for a modification of the producer responsibility framework to encourage retailers and brand owners to increase the use of recycled polymers.

If this had been in place, then the retailers and dairies would have thought twice before switching back to virgin polymer and losing their relief from what the BPF says is a hugely unpredictable cost under producer responsibility obligations.

BPF Recycling Group chairman Roger Baynham said: “We have effectively reached a fork in the road. Do nothing, accept that the UK recycling sector will struggle to compete with global low cost economies and become increasingly dependent on such markets for our waste or implement changes which can deliver successful and investable long term recycling businesses which create green UK jobs as part of a sustainable circular economy. Events at Closed Loop Recycling show that this is a decision which can no longer be ducked.”